If you are into wine you will have heard about terroir and how it affects the taste of wine. Ever since the Benedictine and Cistercian monks studied and defined the concept of terroir in the territories of Burgundy and Germany, the interesting question, “what is terroir” could have us occupied for hours, or even days. It’s a term that has no translation in any other language, indicating the complex factors that create the identity of a wine.

The sense of the soil

In theory, terroir is an umbrella term that combines the result of many different factors that affect wine: the effect of climate, soil, topography, humidity, rainfall, sunshine, soil chemicals, and human intervention in the cultivation of the vineyard when it’s done in a traditional way that respects the ecosystem.

Essentially, terroir is something like the fingerprint on wine. It gives a certificate of origin, a very specific origin. In general, we are talking about the whole “sense of the soil” which makes each vineyard unique. In practice, terroir is what gives wine its special character; it is the opposite of mass production from large-scale vineyards.

The legacy of France

Etymologically, the word has French origins and refers to something related to the earth. Its original root comes from Latin terra, meaning land. In the case of terroir, however, the etymology is more confusing than enlightening, since very often the term is equated exclusively with the geological composition of the vineyards, which is no longer the case.

It is true that terroir was originally associated with earthy aromas that characterised some wines from classical regions, such as Bordeaux in France, for example. Nowadays there is another traditional, somewhat romantic, concept that revolves around terroir, connecting it with specific vineyards in the Western Mediterranean, which dominate the production of excellent wine; it is believed that they have the ideal soil composition, which ultimately shows up in their wines.

Terroir is…

Most of the times, the term ends up being a word that all wine lovers use and no one really knows its true meaning. However, the current trend in all countries is to recognise the importance of the location or, more correctly, a good correspondence between the location, variety and type of wine produced.

The wine gifts of the mountain

In mountainous areas, there is usually a large mismatch between day and night temperatures. Vineyards – like humans – prefer a nice, warm and sunny day and cooler nights for better sleep. The mountain vineyards ripen under bright sunlight. The sunshine adds a special character to the grapes, thicker skins and balances their colour, intensity and taste.

Indeed, it is generally accepted by winemakers that the lower temperatures and intense sunshine of the mountainous Mediterranean regions alter the time of cultivation, giving the terroir of mountain vineyards seasons of faster ripening and, therefore, earlier harvest period. The fruit of mountainous vineyards are differentiated from the rest by developing more flavourful flesh and dynamic acidity. Their fruit is the basis for wines with rich structure and bright acidity.

Omodos’ terroir

Investing in the authenticity of Omodos’ terroir, the hardworking residents have always produced wine of unique quality. The verdant mountain slopes of Omodos, at an altitude of 800 m. to the peak of Laona and 1,060 m. at Afamis, enclose a long wine tradition represented in the nature of the village and are rightfully included in the most famous vineyards of the island. In white limestone, medium rocky soils, the vineyards spread their roots, searching for the coveted moisture. Rocky soils are what will ultimately highlight the sought-after mineral notes in wine.

Lower temperatures and the freshness of the mountain are important factors shaping the special character of Omodos’ terroir. The rays of the Mediterranean sun, daily shining through the vineyards, and the cool, humid nights, all contribute to the creation of a fine microclimate.